TuSimple to test driverless trucks in Tucson, Arizona after opening new office



TuSimple, which is a company based in China that is developing driverless commercial trucks, has opened an office in Tucson, Arizona, which will allow the company to test and demonstrate its vehicles in the city.

This will be TuSimple’s second office in the United States, as the company also has an office in San Diego.

“We believe that by leveraging the autonomous truck technology, we can help local economic growth by making Tucson the new nexus for [transportation logistics], and also sprout new job opportunities,” says TuSimple co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Xiaodi Hou, via Arizona Public Media.

The fact that TuSimple opened an office in Tucson can be chopped up to a bit of chance according to Xiaodi, as he says that initially, TuSimple investigated Tucson due to a “linguistic coincidence” since TuSimple and Tucson are written with the same two characters in Chinese.

Upon researching Tucson though, TuSimple realized that there were a number of benefits to opening an office in Tucson, as laws in the area were friendly to driverless car testing, the area was inexpensive rent wise, and it also has a university that has strong engineering programs.

Initially, the Tucson workforce will include 10 to 30 workers, and in the next five years, the company plans on hiring 100 people.

According to Sun Corridor, a regional economic development group, TuSimple’s economic impact in the area will be an estimated $81.7 million over the next five years.

“Tucson’s workforce, specifically our engineering and technical workforce, is the under-reported strength in our community,” says Mayor Jonathan Rothschild.

“And in this case, not only is it an under-reported strength, but it’s probably the deciding factor that got this company here.”

Instead of developing trucks that handle “last-mile trucking,”—which includes deliveries to individual companies and customers—TuSimple wants to instead develop trucks that can handle long-haul drives between warehouses.

TuSimple won’t waste any time getting to work in its new office, as company executives plan to conduct a pilot test of five fully loaded autonomous trucks on Interstate 10 by the end of 2018.